One aspect of plant care that often causes a few headaches is pruning. How and when it should be done varies from plant to plant, and if done improperly can harm your plants or delay your flowering or fruiting time.

Here are a few basic tips so you can enjoy your flowers, fruit and even your pruning:

First things first …


 I am a tool fanatic, and proper pruning is impossible without the right tools.


They are used for the young and thinner branches and always should be sharp to avoid tearing and splitting twigs and branches.

Lopper or long-handled secateurs

They give you more strength to cut thicker branches, and also give you added leverage to reach way into bushy shrubs or up into a tree.

Pruning saw

For the thick branches or trees or older shrubs.

Hedging shears

For the pruning and shaping of formal hedges and topiaries, or general trimming of shrubs.

All these tools should be kept sharp so that they will cut cleanly and easily. It is also good practice to wash all these tools after use with soapy water and to sterilise them by wiping it with ethanol. This prevents the spread of pests and diseases in your garden. Always dry thoroughly after cleaning to prevent rust and grease all the moving parts.

Pruning tips for al shrubs, roses and fruit trees

1. Remove all dead, diseased or broken twigs and branches;

2. Remove water sprouts, suckers and crossing branches;

3. Remove all crowded and crossing growth that doesn’t allow air circulation (especially when in full foliage);

There is one basic rule for shrubs, climbers or groundcover and succulents that only flower once a year: they need to be pruned or trimmed immediately after flowering has stopped.

In autumn and winter, you should prune back the following shrubs after flowering:

Plumbago, Barleria spp., Lavender bushes, Leonotis, Senecio spp., Thrachelospermum jasminoides, and Hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas need to be pruned mid-July, and you need to prune one- third of the plant back.

Roses and fruit trees (deciduous fruit trees) also needs pruning in their dormant season. With roses half to two- thirds of the branches needs to be pruned back. Always cut above an outward-facing node.

Bonsai and formal hedges need regular pruning or trimming to keep their shape.

Pruning encourages new growth, helps manage the size of plants, promotes better blooms and fruit, and also healthier plants. After pruning, remember to give your plants a good mulch which will help your plants with that extra “vooma” when new growth starts.

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Euryops is an indigenous plant group from the Cape for the Cape. Winters in the Cape can be wet, windy and cold but with Euryops in your garden, your day will be filled with warmth and colour.

Euryops is a group of evergreen, hardy and bushy shrubs that grow fast, and are wind and frost resistant. They need a sunny position and will tolerate some semi-shade but will flower less. Plant them in well-drained loamy soil that contains plenty of compost. They are good landscaping plants where colour is needed, and because they are fast-growing, they quickly fill a gap in any sunny position. They are great plants for mixed borders, mass planting and rockeries. Euryops are low maintenance and only need pruning after flowering in spring to keep its shape. Also, every 2 to 3 years prune back hard to keep plants from becoming woody. In spring, give a good layer of compost, especially in coastal gardens.

Euryops are free-flowering shrubs that attract birds, bees and butterflies to any garden with the flowers also lasting some time in a vase.

Euryops pectinatus:

Common name: Golden Daisy Bush or Harpuisbos (afrikaans)

It is the shorter more compact growing Euryops with attractive, soft grey-green foliage and bigger, yellow, daisy-like flowers throughout the year but more in winter and spring. The flowers stand above the foliage, making it a striking eye-catcher specimen in any garden. Deadheading will help to prolong the flowering season.

Euryops virgineus:

Common name: Honey Daisy

The common name says it all of this Euryops. When flowering, it smells like a pot of honey and hundreds of bees will hover around the bush. Euryops virgineus’ foliage is a fine, dark green, fern-like foliage and at the end of winter hundreds of small yellow flowers will cover the plants for weeks. 

If you need an indigenous plant with little fuss and a lot of joy, then Euryops is the plant for you.

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Pruning and winter go hand in hand and play an essential part of a plant’s care whether it is a tree, shrub or groundcover. July in the Cape is rainy, windy and cold outside but this is the time to do pruning to encourage healthy growth, flowers and fruit for summer.

Why do we need to prune?

1.  Your first objective is to maintain the health of your plants by keeping your plants free from dead or diseased branches, and encourage new growth and healthy-looking plants;

2.  Prune to shape your plant as it grows, especially when it is young to make it bushier or more compact when using plants as a hedge;

3.  To prevent a plant getting too large for the space it was originally planted in, or when blocking a beautiful view;

4.  Plants can become old and leggy, but you can rejuvenate them by pruning them back, especially fast-growing plants needs regular pruning;

5.  Prune to correct some defect like eliminating branches that rub against other branches, or so that more light or water can reach the inner branches or improve air circulation. Pruning branches to correct the balance between the crown and roots promotes healthy plants;

6.  If your plant is a flowering or fruiting type, you need to prune to encourage the best conditions for prolific flowering and fruiting. Additionally, this allows air and sun to reach fruit in the centre;

7.  To achieve sculptural shapes, known as topiaries, the two-dimensional pattern achieved by pruning and tying fruit trees or shrubs to a frame (known as espalier). The deliberate dwarfing of certain trees or shrubs that mimic the shape of fully-grown trees in a small container (known as bonsai). These are all fashion novelties, and these differently trained or shaped plants are used as an architectural elaboration of your house.

Pruning is more than simply cutting of branches of a tree or a shrub to keep it from overgrowing. Pruning is the key to controlling the size or shape of your plants, their flowers and fruit. It also promotes new life in your garden as well as healthier and better-looking plants.

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